MIAMI — The Kansas City Chiefs haven’t been to the Super Bowl in 50 years, but a piece of KC has.
KC’s own George Toma is working his 54th. On Super Bowl Sunday he’ll turn 91 years young and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
It is the worlds front lawn. He is the world’s greatest groundskeeper. Toma will have none of that legend nonsense.
“No I’m not a legend. No one has ever worked for me. They worked with me,” Toma said.
The son of a Pennsylvania coal miner, Toma knew early on digging below wasn’t for him.
“When I was 10 my dad died from black lung disease.”
Digging above ground became his first love. Hired as a minor league groundskeeper at age 12. He worked in the Indians organization, took time off to serve during the Korean War, then came back to his love of green, as in grass. Eventually landing in KC and never looking back.
And moonlighting for the NFL starting with the first Super Bowl.
A handful of workers back then, Toma remembers Super Bowl IV and the Chiefs world championship field in New Orleans:
“That year we didn’t have much time, six days. It rained, hard to grow grass so I took wood chips and sawdust. Painted it green and we put it on there,” Toma said.
Toma says it worked out OK. Did it ever. The Chiefs won too.
Now as the team goes for Super Bowl win number two, George Toma is still teaching, even if he’s no longer in charge.
Ed Mangan is, but learning too.
“You can’t not. Again, 54 Super Bowls. I can’t think of anything he hasn’t seen or done,” Mangan said.
No wood chips now. Grow lights and two years of nurturing have this patch of grass super ready, and the teacher super happy.
Gone from Chiefs 30 years but Toma is still part of the Hunt family who still provide season tickets. From Miami he heads to Fort Meyers where he will help the Minnesota Twins get their spring training complex ready.
The legend. Though he denies it. 91-year-young George Toma working his 54th Super Bowl! With his favorite teams end zone behind him. @donnatoma216 @chiefs #SuperBowlLIV #ChiefsKingdom pic.twitter.com/M9euPkJuoA
— John Holt (@JohnHoltNews) January 28, 2020